IMMOLATION – Atonement
The best death metal bands from my viewpoint establish their own take on proceedings early in their career- and continue to stick to those ideals while developing future albums. New York’s Immolation has been one of those acts that right away from "Dawn of Possession" in 1991 created a style that is relentless, brutal, and thought provoking – using pinch harmonies and intriguing riff construction to keep ears at upright attention. "Atonement" as the 10th studio record keeps the hunger and zest for execution as high as the early years – giving the listener a feast to behold, digest, and invest multiple listens for long-term enjoyment.
Keeping the songwriting on a focused three to four-minute clip for the most part ("Above All" the longest track at 4:55), the heavier, slower passages for the closing end of "When the Jackals Come" echo like the churning of an iron factory, while the tribal hits against the guitar passages for the follow up "Fostering the Divide" signal the underworld, or possibly the biggest walls of death one can summon when Immolation air this live. Drummer Steve Shalaty can go from comfortable doom/death tempos to insane blasts in a nanosecond, as the Robert Vigna/ Alex Bouks riff parade comes trucking from all sides – the main runs within "Rise the Heretics" and "The Power of Gods" obliterating anything that dare step in the path. Topping things off with bassist/vocalist Ross Dolan, the voice that can devour souls yet remain intelligible for those who wish to understand the words he utters – this is quite a firm front to back record that doesn’t relinquish adrenaline or depth of death content.
"Atonement" keeps Immolation top of mind in the death metal genre – gratifying for those who believe that everything has already been done in the style. Gives hope to the younger bands in the movement, while proving the older, established veterans can deliver potent, crushing material today as they did in their twenties and thirties.